Brunel MBA student, now FTSE 250 Ops Director, talks on Global Operations Strategies

Simon Nicholson, Oxford Instruments Ops Director

The most recent “Let’s Talk Business” Guest Speaker Series featured Simon Nicholson, Brunel MBA student and a Director of Operations at Oxford Instruments, a FTSE 250 company with 1900 employees worldwide and a turnover of £262m. Entitled “Global Operations Strategy”, Simon’s presentation centred on issues facing operations management in a global context.

Oxford Instruments is an innovative company that supplies high-tech tools and systems for research and industry. It designs and manufactures equipment that can fabricate, analyse and manipulate matter at the atomic and molecular level. As the company becomes increasingly successful in recent years, Jonathan Flint, CEO of Oxford Instruments, has been made a CBE in this New Year’s honours for his services to science and business. Oxford Instruments

With more than 30 offices and factories in Europe, USA, China and Japan, operations management at Oxford Instruments is by no means an easy task. What makes Simon’s talk especially interesting for the MBA class is that he is a student of Brunel Business School who has recently completed his own Brunel MBA dissertation. He is therefore perceived as “one of us” – someone MBA students can relate to and aspire to become. Taking place during an operations management lecture, the real business case Simon presented has greatly enriched learning on that day. With the knowledge of product design still fresh in many students’ minds, the new handheld XRF metal analyser Simon brought with him also became a subject of fascination both during and after the presentation.

Simon approached the topic of “Global Operations Strategy” from many different angles. Speaking from his experience, Simon elaborated on the need to align operations strategy with corporate strategy, as well as the need to negotiate and collaborate with other functions of the business such as marketing, customer services, human capital management, FDI configuration, finance, risk control and so on. 

Simon’s spoke frankly about the differences between theories and their applications. Instead of a single strategy, theoretical model or approach, individually defined in textbooks for theoretical clarity, the complexity of real life situation often calls for a combination of multiple strategies, theoretical models and approaches.

Says Elizabeth Huang, current MBA student and the MBA Ambassador.

Simon with his former MBA faculty.

Narinder Bhandal, MBA Administrator who works closely with the MBA students says:

“Simon joined the MBA programme in February 2009, and was a very keen dedicated student on the MBA programme, always excelling in his modules, yet with so much modesty. We remember a time when he especially came to the School to attend a presentation skills workshop to help him with his interview techniques during his job searches….we are happy to see it helped!”

BBS Employability Programme

The MBA Guest Speaker Series is organised under the umbrella of Business Life, an intensive Employability Programme available to Brunel Business School Students.

Article submitted by Elizabeth Huang, current MBA student and MBA Ambassador

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